Mary sobbed uncontrollably as she looped the flimsy rope over the ceiling beam in her bedroom. She was a small girl and the rope should be strong enough to hold her, she thought. Her heart clenched tight with anguish. Crushing pain racked her little body. She just had to push away the chair she was standing on, and hopefully the pain will stop. The pain will stop, it had to!
She just wanted the pain to stop.
She couldn’t handle it anymore, she hurt so much.
She didn’t want to hurt anymore.
She didn’t want to feel alone anymore.
She didn’t want to feel like a failure anymore. She didn’t want to feel her father’s disappointment in her anymore. The pressures of being 12 years old were so overwhelming. She could never live up to what everybody wanted of her.
She just wanted to die.
Good bye Daddy. Good bye Mommy. Good bye little brother Jay. She cried even harder thinking about her family. They wouldn’t miss her anyway.
“Mary! Dinner!” Mary heard her mom calling her for dinner. She collapsed into a bawling heap on the ceramic floor. Oh my God! Oh my God! Please help me!
Mary’s next attempt at suicide was when she was 16 years old. She left school in the middle of the day, took the bus home and overdosed on a bottle of pills she had been saving, waiting for the right time. She was hospitalized and discharged after a few weeks.
At 19 years old, Mary went away to University. She had been so happy the summer before her university days were to begin, and so ready to set out on her own. Her life as an adult was upon her, she was ecstatic and so very optimistic about her future. She had a wonderful man in her life who adored her. Her grades were among the honors, and she was attending one of the top universities in the country. She was young, and beautiful, bubbling with life and vitality. Her parents were supporting her through university. Everything was good and right in her life.
Except it wasn’t.
She had hoped that she had outgrown the angst and pain of her teenage years. She had thought those days were behind her.
She was wrong.
The pressures of being alone in a foreign city without her loved ones intensified her feelings of being alone. There were high expectations of her to perform and achieve beyond her successful parents’ accomplishments. The deep abyss of pain began to gnaw at her insides until she could not hold it in any longer. She began to cut her arms to relieve some of the pain inside. Before long, she was suicidal and had to be returned to her parents’ home and then hospitalized.
She was finally diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with Borderline Personality Disorder. She was treated and discharged with a plan to continue treatment and community support. She cheerfully wished everyone a hearty farewell, and happily skipped out of the hospital with nary a backward glance.
At 2 in the morning, four days after her discharge from the hospital, Mary called a friend she had recently bonded with from the hospital, sobbing that she couldn’t handle it anymore. She abruptly hung up and her friend could not get a hold of her after. After repeated attempts of calling her cellphone, with no response, the friend knew she had to find a way to reach her. In a panic, the friend called the local directory, and guessed the names of her parents which her home phone number could be listed under. Luckily, the friend was able to reach Mary’s father and asked him to check on Mary. They found Mary overdosed and unconscious, but thankfully still alive.
Mary’s parents, though educated and loved her very much, floundered in their effort to understand and support her in her illness. They couldn’t understand her depression, because her life was full and advantageous compared to so many others who were less fortunate. She had everything anyone could want. Their attempts to raise her spirits and motivate her, only added to her frustration and feelings of loneliness and being misunderstood.
I see so much of my younger self in Mary; Her feelings, her experiences, her attempts, and her struggle to live and die.
I wish I could tell her that it will get better.
I wish I could tell her that those awful feelings of despair and wanting to die will go away and never come back.
I wish I could tell her that there is a magic little pill that makes everything right and happy again.
But the truth is, I can’t say with any kind of conviction that things will get better, not when I am struggling everyday with those same feelings of hopelessness.
I can only tell her that she will learn to cope better with the illness, learn to cope better with the feelings, with the pain, and with the intruding thoughts that make her feel so small and want to die.
I can tell her that there will be extreme lows in her mood, and they may not be preventable every time, but she can learn to recover quicker from those lows, so that this miserable burden becomes easier to bear.
I can her that there will not only be lows, but highs as well, because life can still be enjoyed when she has good days, weeks, months, or even years without any hint of darkness or despair. It can happen.
Depression is treatable.
Mary is now only 19 years old, still so young. There is still so much she can do, still so much of life yet to experience. Even with this mental illness, and the dismal outlook that inherently comes with it, she can still have a full and complete life. Yes, there will be dark days, but there is help and support to brace and carry her through those difficult days. There are people who love her, and care for her, even though she feels unworthy.
I want to tell Mary that it is okay to ask for help, and accept that help when she can no longer cope with the illness. In fact, it is preferable that she reach out for help, rather than succumb to the darkness in isolation. I want Mary to hear me tell her that she is so worthy of saving, because she has so much light and love to offer the world.
Stay strong Mary.
You will laugh and enjoy the light again soon. And there are still many hours of twerking yet to be done!
Mary is a real person and her story is true. I have changed her name and called her “Mary” to give her anonymity and respect her privacy.